After years of yelling across the table at family gatherings and speaking slowly enough that my lips could be read, I truly believe it is my destiny to work with people with speech and hearing problems. You see, every man on my father’s side of the family is either deaf or has a hearing problem and wears a hearing aid. Consequently, my whole life has been filled with blaring TVs and deafening radios. It is amazing I don’t have a hearing problem, too.
I grew up criticizing how my father spoke and being embarrassed by him. Now I realize that was because I was young, and I did not understand that his speech problems stem from not being able to hear what sounds he was making. Recently he has also developed a stuttering problem. I never really thought of my dad as having a disability, though. I do not like that word.
My dad is truly an amazing person. Despite his disability, he plays the organ at church; he has always held a good job and provides well for his family. Most importantly, he has been a loving father and husband. Unfortunately, my father’s hearing has grown progressively worse. I will have to accept the fact that one day it will get so bad he won’t be able to hear my voice or everyday sounds - the laughter of children, or the ringing of church bells that bring sweet music into our lives.
Someday, the only way my dad will be able to communicate is through sign language, which I hope to teach him soon. I guess I better enjoy talking to him as much I can now, so he will remember the sound of my voice.
My dad is the major reason I want to study speech pathology and audiology. I have always wanted a career that works with children. The joy of helping a child is more gratifying to me than any other job. I always thought I would be a teacher but lately I have realized I would rather work with children who have disabilities.
My true wish in life is to be able to prevent other children from having to deal with problems my father has faced. I don’t think that anyone, let alone a child, should go through something like that. I have seen firsthand how painful and embarrassing a disability can be. If I can save just one child from having this problem, my entire professional goal would be met.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.